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Your Cancer Care Team

Each individual is unique; each person’s cancer is different. You are the expert in your cancer experience. Together, you and your health care team can work to get the best care for you. Knowing who is on your team will make it easier to efficiently manage your treatment and find resources you need.

Medical oncologist: These doctors are specially trained to diagnose and treat cancer and specialize in the use of chemotherapy and other drugs to treat cancer.

Nurses: You will have the most direct contact with your nurses. Oncology nurses, radiation therapy nurses and oncology nurse practitioners have special training in caring for people with cancer. Nurse practitioners can prescribe medications and diagnose illnesses. Your nurses will be able to answer many of your questions, give medicine, and provide emotional support. They are also usually in charge of implementing the treatment plan your doctor has set up for you.

Surgeon: These doctors perform biopsies (cells or tissues are removed from the body and examined to help with a diagnosis) and surgeries.

Surgical oncologist: These surgeons specialize in treating cancer.

Pathologist: These physicians examine biopsy and tumor tissue and are responsible for the accuracy of laboratory tests. They will provide you and your doctors with information about your tumor that will be used to determine how it will be treated.

Radiologist: These doctors read and interprets x-rays, ultrasounds, CT scans, MRIs and other imaging tests. This member of your team may also perform biopsies during special x-rays or ultrasounds.

Radiation oncologist: These radiologists specialize in the treatment of cancer using radiation.

Dosimetrist: The person will use the radiation oncologist’s prescribed dose of radiation for your tumor to calculate and plan your radiation treatment.

Radiation therapist: The person who will deliver your radiation therapy.

Medical physicist: The person who will be responsible for ensuring your receive the exact dose of radiation prescribed by the radiation oncologist.

Family Doctor or general practitioner: The doctor who provides primary health care for you and your family.

Social worker: A person trained to identify social and emotional needs and provide services necessary to meet them. A social worker can help you and your family find resources to cope with cancer and its treatment.

Pharmacist: The doctor who will prepare and dispense your medications. She or he will be able to explain to you how your medications work.

Psychiatrist and psychologist: Mental health specialists who can help you and your family understand, manage, and cope with feelings, thoughts, worries, and behaviors. Psychiatrists have a medical degree and have the ability to prescribe medication.

Registered dietitian: A person who can help you maintain a healthy diet and get proper nutrition during your treatment and recovery.

Plastic surgeon: The doctor who specializes in cosmetic and/or reconstructive surgery.

Rehabilitation specialist: A person who specializes in helping patients maintain or regain their ability to perform daily activities. Depending on the type of cancer you have, you may see a physical therapist, occupational therapist, counselor, or speech therapist during and after your cancer treatment.

Home health aide: An aide can help you move around or with bathing. She or he may also cook or do some household chores.

Hospice care providers: These individuals provide specialized care to meet the needs of people who have terminal or end-stage cancer. This type of care focuses on providing physical comfort, reducing pain, and giving emotional or spiritual support.

Clergy: Chaplains conduct religious worship and perform other spiritual functions associated with beliefs and religion. Many people find prayer and spiritual counseling can be help them cope with cancer.